Flexibility

by ADL Technology

When an OEM, DOD contractor,  or consumer manufacturer introduces a new product that contains electronics, changes sometimes need to be made to either the design or the layout of the PCB.  It doesn’t matter whether the product is simple or complex, changes to the PCB’s form, fit, or function can be required because of changes in

  • product functionality requirements
  • availability of components
  • diversification for market applications
  • weight or other dimensional requirements to meet end item application
  • performance assessment after prototype evaluation

Companies like ADL who have both in-house electronic design and manufacturing capabilities make ideal partners because they are able to provide seamless assistance when design revisions are needed. At ADL we can provide you with access to our in-house experts in Design For Manufacturing (DFM) who serve as guides for any changes needed.  Our staff can advise you how to make changes such as:

  • maximize a layout to reduce schedule and production risks
  • optimize your business processes, cost, and design stability throughout the product lifecycle
  • track changes and part numbers for component end of life and availability

If changes are needed to the production of your PCB we can quickly implement them on our shop floor.

Change Effects on Production and Delivery

A word to the customer, changes after the initial layout or BOM can be disruptive to the production flow of the EMS but are necessary at times.  However, a more flexible EMS partner, such as ADL, will understand that a product schedule, particularly the critical path of the project, is essential in delivering a new product to market. A good EMS will understand and help circumvent the barriers to market entry through timely changes to their own schedules when possible. Another key element in flexibility for an EMS is that start-ups may be inaccurate when determining their sales forecast. For example, they may request a certain amount of product to be delivered to them quarterly. If initial sales projections fall behind and the consumer wants to push delivery out to later in the blanket order to protect their cash, a good EMS will have in place a way to work with you. Ask your EMS up front and keep them well informed so they can accommodate your request.  They may require an additional charge to cover expenses, not an additional convenience fee.

How important is flexibility?

To quote one of our customers, a predictive maintenance service provider in manufacturing who ADL began a relationship when they were a start up, “Time and ease of business…Your team has been proactive…we need business partners with the same desire to be one step ahead for the best customer experience.” We are now years into this relationship, which continues to grow.

Our Job as a supplier/partner is to provide our customers with not only today’s solutions but tomorrow’s as well.

Contact Us for More Information

For more information,  contact us today

More than just a vendor, a partner as well!

by ADL Technology
View your EMS as a partner!

Viewing the electronic manufacturing services you work with as a your consultant and partner, not just another vendor.

To those in need of a great EMS provider, an EMS should not be thought of as a vendor. Instead, try viewing them as your consultant and partner.

The gray area in your business relationship with an EMS can and should become very, very thin.  Customers should allow the curtains to be drawn and allow the EMS provider to have first-hand knowledge of your needs, so they bring their knowledge and skills to the table. They should be anxious to do it since it will allow the process to be more effective and efficient! If you are working with an EMS provider that doesn’t seem excited about having a close working relationship with you, you are with the wrong company.

Start with Communication

One of the keys to any successful partnership is communication.  Make sure everyone is in the loop! When you have a product team meeting, is there any rationale to leave out any team member? Even if they are not in the critical chain for the discussion for that particular meeting, having situational awareness of the project and each team member’s responsibility and progress is invaluable. Don’t exclude your EMS provider from that information. The EMS provider wants to know what your concerns will be so they can contribute to the overall planning. Remember, you hired them or are hiring them because of their expertise in the EMS industry.

Developing Your Partnership Together with Communication

One of our customers, a producer of antimicrobial lighting who we have been with from the infancy of their product line stated, “I always appreciate it when Dave’s team makes comments on how to improve or what aspects of a PCB design effect the ability to produce it efficiently.” Ask your EMS what their commitment is and will be to the team. Ask simple, broad questions such as:

  • Will they attend a weekly or bi-weekly meeting?
  • How do you think you might help us in this project?

Remember, I am in sales, and I want to obtain and keep customers by making sure they are satisfied with our work. Ask me this question and I will be excited to answer it because you are giving me a chance to be a partner and excel instead of just providing parts.

To read about how we partner with clients visit our case studies page

Getting On Board with Product Evolution

by ADL Technology

Many products have become “smart.” A great example is vacuum cleaners, they have sensors that tell you when a canister needs to be emptied or automatically adjust to the floor surface. Fully autmoated systems will actually learn the layout of your space so they can clean up virtually automatically.

Even the simplest of tools we use today are increasingly complex.  Consumer, industrial, medical, transportation, and military tools are becoming smarter and more easily managed, even from a distance.  For example, we expect:

  • our vacuum cleaners to learn our house’s layout, our fridges to tell us when we need milk, or the lights to come on automatically when it is dark.
  • shop floor manufacturing devices to alert when tasks are done, when they need maintenance, and how many pieces have been completed.
  • Medical devices to send patient data to remote providers, facility doors to open with a wave of the hand, and medical carts track medications and supplies that have been dispensed.

All of these applications are the results of taking basic tools and adding functionality and these product enhancements require printed circuit boards assemblies aka PCBAs.  PCBA’s serve as the products brain; connecting the electronic components in these devices such as sensors, cable assemblies, and software so they can store and transmit data.  Whether the data provided is a convenience or mission critical data it is truly amazing how many items contain Printed Circuit Boards and how much we have come to rely on such tools at home and at work.

ADL’s surface mount machine allows ADL to optimize the process to build multiple printed circuit board assemblies at a time.

The ubiquity of smart devices comes at a cost.  Just like any other industry, there is a tremendous range in quality of the printed circuit boards and components in the products around us. One of the choices manufacturers’ make is the level of quality needed for any given device.

At ADL the boards we create go into products used in anything from healthcare to industrial tools.  That is why our boards go through both visual, automated and functional quality checks throughout production.  We also provide design support from prototyping through production to ensure that the boards meet your specifications and product requirements.

For more information,  contact us today for a  Quote for your next project.

 

Working with Venti-Now to Support Low-cost, Portable Ventilator Development

by ADL Technology

ADL has partnered with Venti-Now’s to advise on the design and procurement of the electronic components and build the first 50 units on a very aggressive timeline

Due to rising concern in early 2020 that hospitals would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients requiring ventilators, a Cincinnati-based non-profit called Venti-Now was formed to explore the possibility of developing a low-cost, portable ventilator.  This Class II medical device would need to control

  • tidal volume
  • inspiration time
  • I/E ratio
  • breaths per minute

all extremely important elements for treating COVID-19 patients.  With the overwhelming need for ventilators around the world, this simple system could fill a niche for underdeveloped countries that may lack access to sufficient equipment.

Venti-Now was founded by a retired P&G engineer who quickly gathered a team consisting of medical, engineering, scientific and manufacturing professionals.  The effort was funded and supported by UC Health, UC Engineering, P&G, and YourEncore.  Within months, the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the rapidly developed design, and units were placed in locales such as Uganda and Tanzania.  Due to its ease of use and robust design, the Venti-Now ventilator fills a critical healthcare need for underdeveloped nations at a fraction of the cost of ventilators in more developed countries.

ADL Technology, a contract manufacturer of printed circuit board assemblies, has had the privilege of being counted as one of Venti-Now’s partners by advising on the design and procurement of the electronic components and building the first 50 units to meet a very aggressive timeline.  As Venti-Now moves to the next development stage, ADL continues to work side-by-side with them  to

  • validate design improvements
  • expand the feature set
  • improve manufacturability
  • expedite additional prototypes and production builds

We look forward to continuing to be part of the long-term support strategy. At this stage of the product development cycle, Venti-Now, a 501(c)(3) organization, is seeking partnerships to further commercialize the device and make it more readily available.  ADL is grateful to be a part of this effort to take this product to the next level and continue to save lives across the globe.

9 Tips for Effective PCB Assembly Testing

by ADL Technology

Testing your printed circuit board assembly is a balancing act.  You want to maximize the coverage of the test without making it cost prohibitive and bogging down the production process.  Having a good understanding of your PCB assembly and common failure modes is key to developing a test that is both thorough and cost-effective.  At ADL, we are constantly working with our customers to develop and improve their test requirements.

Here are 9 tips that we’ve learned over the years:

  1. Don’t rely solely on a visual inspection.  Even if your PCB assembly is simple, it can have problems that are invisible to the eye.  And if you have to return a failed unit to the manufacturer for repair, they have no way of troubleshooting it.
  2. A simple power-up test is a vast improvement over visual inspection.  It can help to ensure proper operation of all voltage rails, detect power-to-ground shorts, and identify polarized components that are incorrectly oriented.
  3. Design your board for ease of testing whenever possible.
    • Add test points to as many nets as possible.
    • Include a serial port for interacting with the PCBA and providing diagnostic data.
    • Provide ready access to all nets, pins and headers that are needed as part of the test.
  4. Provide your manufacturer with a “golden board” that can be used to validate the test procedure and test fixture.  A golden board is a perfectly functioning PCB assembly used as the gold standard for testing and production.
  5. Provide documentation that is as detailed as it needs to be – but no more so.  Underspecifying can lead to incorrect assumptions being made by technicians; over specifying can lengthen test time unnecessarily.
  6. As you learn more about failure modes of your product, update your test procedure accordingly.  Your contract manufacturer should be willing to work with you to change their test in order to help you weed out any recurring failures that are making it through to your shelves.
  7. It’s worth investing in your test fixture.
    • A custom test PC board or assembly can be designed and built for very low cost.
    • Consider an intermediate board for a connector that will be mated many times over its life.  When the connector starts to wear down, throw away the intermediate board and replace it with a new one rather than halting production while reworking the fixture.
    • Purchase the programmer recommended by the chip manufacturer for production applications rather than the lower-cost “lite” or “dev board” version that will wear out quickly.
  8. Consider incorporating LabVIEW or Python into your test procedure.  These tools are great for testing assemblies that are highly complex, for test procedures that are lengthy or easily automated, or for implementing record collection to ensure product traceability.  LabVIEW is also a very good way to translate a difficult-to-check reading into an easy pass/fail.  (Would you rather use a multimeter to verify a thousand times that 17 different test points are all between 3.768V and 3.876V, or look at a screen that tells you with a PASS or a FAIL?)
  9. Work with your manufacturer to optimize your test procedure.  They should be happy to provide feedback to you on where they commonly see failures, what steps slow them down, and how the overall efficiency and efficacy of the test can be improved.  Ultimately, this collaborative dialogue can be used to improve your design.

At ADL, we perform a full functional test of every PCB assembly that we build, and we work with our customers to develop test procedures that are thorough and efficient.  If you’re looking for a contract manufacturer who will partner with you to ensure your PCB assembly is built correctly, on time, and cost-effectively, contact us today!

Bird’s-eye View of Our Columbus, Ohio Manufacturing Facility

by ADL Technology

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of our Columbus, Ohio manufacturing facility! ADL Technology specializes in designing and building printed circuit board assemblies. If you’re looking to reshore your PCB assembly work, contact us today!

Why Reshoring Better Supports Your Supply Chain

Manufacturing companies are facing significant problems due to supply chain disruptions.  While off-shoring components for a final product may have seemed like good business a few years ago, the environment has changed. Many companies are reviewing TCO (total cost of ownership) and the relevant calculations in light of the current business/manufacturing environment.

Calculating TCO

TCO should include more than wages and raw materials.   For accuracy, these calculations must include information about:

  • Operations Costs; e.g. delivery lead time, delivery costs, level/quality of customer support, quality/warranty of component, ability to change a component based on evolving product requirements
  • Risk mitigation: intellectual property control, regulatory compliance, tariffs, current labor costs overseas, lost orders due to delays

Additional Advantages of Working with ADL Technology

In addition to attaching real data to the elements above, working with ADL  should provide you with opportunities to

  • have better control over your inventory levels
  • take advantage of NET payments vs pay upon shipment
  • take advantage of tax initiatives

ADL Technology’s OHIO facility manufacturers the following electronic components:

  • PC Boards and Assemblies
  • Box Builds and Control Panels
  • Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies

ADL fills in the gaps in capability for our customers from concept to delivery. We provide collaborative feedback on engineering design and prototypes. Unlike an offshore company, you will work directly with our production team to reduce cost and improve throughput for your product.  Whether it is a prototype or ready for manufacturing, we work with you to provide feedback to make sure the product meets your specifications.

We provide manufacturing quotes and design proposals at no cost allowing your to leverage our large-company capabilities while still enjoying our small-company feel.
Unlike offshore options your never have to worry about IP, your design source files belong to you, even if we create them as part of an engineering design project.

Contact Us Today

 

Getting to the bottom of Printed Circuit Boards

by ADL Technology

Printed Circuit Boards Are Found Everywhere

PC Boards Ready to be incorporated into other products

Originally found only in devices that are obviously “electronic” in nature – computers, stereos, and the like – PCB assemblies can now be found just about everywhere. We all carry a handful of PCB assemblies in our pockets each day, such as those that are embedded in our cell phones. Countless medical, consumer, military, security and industrial products contain PCB assemblies, and often,Printed Circuit Boards Starts with Picking the Correct Substrate

When most people look at a printed circuit board, they focus on the components soldered to it. (“Look how many there are! They’re so tiny!”) But the PCB assembly process really begins with the selection of the correct bare board material, the substrate. The substrate is the material that holds the copper traces and electrical components; it is the foundation of the PCB assembly. The correct PCB substrate is determined by the end application. Different substrates have different properties that can affect the functionality of the finished product. The challenge for today’s engineer is selecting the proper substrate for the application, taking into consideration the requirements of their final product.

Common PCB Substrates

The most common type of printed circuit board material is FR4. FR4 is a fiberglass cloth material bound together with epoxy. It is rigid, durable, flame-resistant, and easy to assemble and rework. It comes in many different thicknesses, the most common being 0.062″. It can contain many copper layers; these layers are typically added in pairs.

Image courtesy of BitWeenie

FLEX PCBs

Increasingly, small devices, wearable devices, and uniquely-shaped devices are calling for a flexible PCB material. “Flex PCBs” can be made from FR4, polyimide, and other materials. These PCBs are more difficult to process, as their flexibility makes it difficult to place PCB components accurately – typically, a rigid carrier is required. However, some applications need their inherent flexibility to make the most use of limited space.

Rigid Flex” PCBs

Rigid and flexible materials can be combined to create “rigid flex” PCBs. These are more expensive and difficult to process, but they can also eliminate the need for wire harnesses and connectors in applications with very limited space.

Aluminum-based PCBs

And for those circuits that generate a lot of heat, aluminum-based PCBs may be the right solution. These PCBs consist of an aluminum base and a copper tracing layer separated by a thin, thermally conductive dielectric layer. Metal core PCBs are great for pulling heat out of high-power LEDs, MOSFETs, or other high-wattage components. However, they come at a premium price, and can be very difficult to rework.

PCB’s for your next Project

What is your next project, and what kind of PCB do you need? Our engineers can work with you to determine what substrate meets your product’s specifications. Or do you already have a board design, and are simply looking for a manufacturer? In either case, ADL will be happy to work with you to build quality PCB boards that meet your products specifications.

Contact us today!

Smart Carts Controlled by Smart Boards

by ADL Technology

PCBAs being prepared for coating.

Using PCBs to Extend Functionality

Printed circuit boards are increasingly found in unexpected places.  With a little creativity on the part of an OEM, the potential to enhance an existing product line with the addition of electronics is unlimited and can expand the functionality to support better tracking, productivity and security.  If you’re thinking of adding electronics to your product, we can help guide you through the PCB design process, and manufacture it for you, as well.

At ADL, we design and build PCB assemblies (PCBAs) that come in all shapes and sizes. These PCBAs can range in size from a thumbnail to a clipboard, and add functionality such as wireless connectivity, environmental sensing, LED lighting, and a host of other features.  If you need help with final product assembly, we can support you there, as well.

ADL supports wave solder, selective solder, and hand solder processes.

PC Boards for Smart Medical Carts

One of our more challenging projects was a collaborative effort to design a PCB for a customer who builds carts that control and track the distribution of medicines in hospitals and nursing homes.  The PCB serves as the brain for the cart, which includes an integrated monitor, keyboard, locking system, and keyless card-swipe access.  Software on the board allows medical professionals to track and dispense a wide variety of medications and supplies.  This moveable station not only keeps critical medical supplies safe, but it also provides support for electronic record-keeping.

Inventory Control and Asset Tracking for Any Industry

While it is proving to be a valuable asset to medical providers, the application of this technology has great potential beyond the healthcare industry.  It could be adapted to any environment where items need to be carefully tracked and distributed due to their high cost, small size, risk of theft, or need to be tightly controlled for legal reasons.

Most of our customers require “mixed technology” boards – those that contain both through-hole and surface-mounted components.

Applications of smart distribution systems could include:

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Work-related tools and equipment
  • Food and beverage vending
  • Electronics vending
  • Manufacturing components

Inventory control is a rapidly evolving space where electronics can help companies provide cost-effective ways of tracking items.  How might your product be enhanced by the addition of electronics?

Contact us today!

Use our online form or call us: (614) 345-9040.